A few months ago, your little bundle of joy came into your life. The little cherub is ready to begin eating their first foods. This can be a confusing time for a lot of new parents, wondering which foods are best to start and which ones to wait for. Hopefully, this article will help to clear things up.
Daddy and Mommy never taught me how to eat a muffin.
Most major medical organizations recommend introducing solid foods somewhere between the fourth and sixth months. Introducing them earlier than four months can increase the risk of food allergies. Delaying their introduction past six months can lead to babies not getting enough nutrition.
Larger, faster-growing babies may be ready to eat food at four months, while smaller babies may not be ready for six months. There is no one right answer to this. Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic on some signs that can help tell you whether your baby is ready:
In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. For example:
Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?
Can your baby sit with support?
Is your baby mouthing his or her hands or toys?
Is your baby showing a desire for food by leaning forward and opening his or her mouth?
If you have questions about when it may be right to introduce solid foods to your baby, it is best to consult your pediatrician or midwife.
While starting solid food, moms should continue to breastfeed along with these foods. Some babies may be ready to wean after a year, and others may take a couple of years. There is no one right answer.
Before we get started on which foods to start, we recommend getting a good mini food mill or mini food processor to make babies with food. Making your own homemade baby food is much healthier and better for the baby. You can make big batches and freeze them if you need to. These glass jars are great for freezing baby food. We do not recommend using plastic containers to freeze baby food in. Foods should be soft and pureed in order to make them easier to digest and reduce the risk of choking.
Baby Parker getting ready to eat.
One thing to keep in mind is that babies do not always take to food the first time. You may need to give it a few times or wait a week or two between trying. It is okay; it does not mean there is anything wrong with your baby. Introduce foods slowly, waiting for 3-5 days in between to ensure the baby tolerates them well.
Some bad advice we often see online relating to babies is that they do not need and should not have salt added to their food. This could not be further from the truth. Here is a great article that breaks down the lack of evidence to support claims to avoid salt. Your baby needs salt in order to properly digest proteins. Not a ton of salt, but small amounts are definitely needed. We recommend unrefined Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt.
So what should a baby’s first food be? Well, it should be easy to digest and rich in nutrients like choline, cholesterol, DHA, and vitamin E. Cholesterol is so important to babies as it helps support their brain and nervous system growth. This incredible food is pastured egg yolks. Get them from a local farmer, or check out this egg scorecard to find a good brand. We recommend waiting for a few months to introduce the egg whites as those are harder for the baby to digest. To make, boil the egg for three and a half to four minutes. Discard the white and add a small pinch of unrefined sea salt to the yolk. Start with just a small amount, like a ¼ to a half teaspoon, and gradually increase over time.
Our next food is pastured chicken livers. Chicken livers are rich in B-12, iron, zinc, choline, and many more nutrients that help support a healthy baby. Cook the chicken livers and then blend with some grass-fed salted butter (If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of unrefined sea salt) in the food processor until it forms a nice pate, but leave it on the thinner side. Feeding 1-2 spoonfuls of this once or twice a week will help babies to get the iron they need. Iron deficiency in small children has been linked to a number of developmental issues.
Third on our list is the millennial staple, avocados. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which is great for a baby’s skin and brain, as well as folate and B6. Make sure the avocado is nice and ripe. Mash it up well or puree it with a pinch of salt and feed off the spoon.
Next up is yogurt or kefir. This is a wonderful food for babies. Rich in calcium, protein, potassium, B-12, and many other great nutrients. They should be grass-fed, full-fat, and unsweetened. If concerns about cow’s milk allergies are an issue, use goat or sheep’s milk.
Let it warm up a bit so it is not too cold. Feed this in small amounts to start, one or two spoonfuls, and gradually increase as long as it is well tolerated.
Mushed bananas should be the next fruit that is introduced. Make sure it is nice and ripe. No green bananas for the baby. Mash it up well or run it through the food processor and add a bit of grass-fed cream.
Our next amazing baby food is wild-caught fish roe. These make wonderful finger food, and babies often love playing with them. They are rich in phospholipids and DHA, which are so important for a growing brain. You will be quite surprised at how much your baby likes these. Check out our blog article on them to learn more.
Once your little muffin has adjusted to those foods, it’s time to introduce pureed meats such as beef or chicken. Cook meats, with a bit of sea salt until very tender, in some bone broth. A slow cooker, Instapot, or crockpot is great for this. Puree the meats with a bit of grass-fed butter.
Next up is wild-caught fish. In our opinion, the best one to start with is a nice piece of super high-quality salmon. Salmon is rich in vitamin D, DHA, protein, and other important nutrients. Cook salmon with a bit of salt, then it can be pureed or fed in very small pieces. Make sure it is nice and soft. Avoid large fish like tuna, shark, and swordfish, as these are high in mercury. Other good fish are haddock, sardines, mackerel, and cod. Make sure to get wild-caught. This is a great source of incredible fish. I should not have to say this, but please, no raw sushi for babies.
After those foods, we recommend beginning to add more fruits and vegetables. In the beginning, steam or cook veggies and fruit until soft and puree veggies with a bit of grass-fed salted butter and fruits with a bit of cream. The fat helps the baby to absorb the nutrients better and provides valuable nutrition. It does not need to be a lot; just a touch is enough, but more is certainly ok if the baby really likes it. Experiment to see how your baby likes it. After trying each individually, feel free to start pureeing various foods together. Here is a list of what we recommend starting with:
Apples and pears
Make apple and pear sauce without the peels.
Fresh, ripe stonefruit such as peaches, nectarines, and apricots with the peels removed.
Prunes are great if your baby is suffering from constipation while switching to solid foods.
Stew them and puree them.
A few spoonfuls should be enough to help with constipation.
Once babies start to get older, you can add these vegetables. Keep an eye on the baby, as these can sometimes cause gas. If they do get gas, you can wait a few weeks or months and try again to see if they can tolerate it now. Cook these till soft and puree with a bit of grass-fed butter.
These softer vegetables and fruits can be some of the first ones to try raw when they can chew; just keep a good eye on them and finely chop everything!
Raw cucumbers without the skin.
Mandarin oranges without the seeds.
Parker thinking "What the hell is this?"
Between eight and twelve months is a good time to introduce fluid milk and cheese. Make sure to use full-fat grass-fed milk. Small pieces of grass-fed cheese can be given if the baby can chew, but keep a very good eye on them to ensure they do not choke. If your child cannot tolerate cow's milk, grass-fed goat's milk, sheep's milk, or even camel's milk (yup, that’s a thing) is a good alternative. We do not recommend the use of plant beverages such as almond, soy, or oat, as those have very little nutritional value. The fortified ones use poor forms of vitamins and minerals that are no substitute for the real thing. For example, the source of calcium in them is just ground-up chalk. Chalk is not a good source of calcium for anyone. If your baby cannot tolerate any dairy milk, it is best just to use other foods to fill in the gaps.
A lot of people have questions about when to introduce certain foods because of food allergies. According to the Mayo Clinic:
It's recommended that you give your baby potentially allergenic foods when you introduce other complementary foods. Potentially allergenic foods include:
Peanuts and tree nuts
Cow milk products
There is no evidence that delaying the introduction of these foods can help prevent food allergies. In fact, early introduction of foods containing peanuts might decrease the risk that your baby will develop a food allergy to peanuts.
Still, especially if any close relatives have a food allergy, give your child his or her first taste of a highly allergenic food at home — rather than at a restaurant — with an oral antihistamine available. If there's no reaction, the food can be introduced in gradually increasing amounts.
It is always a good idea to talk to your baby’s pediatrician before introducing foods that may cause allergic reactions to see when they recommend introducing those foods.
A few other food notes:
Honey should not be fed to babies under one year of age due to the risk of botulism.
Juice is just sugar. Avoid giving juice as long as possible as it will help to keep your baby healthy and reduce their desire for sweet, sugary foods.
Many of you are probably wondering why we have not listed cereals such as rice, oats, etc. Well, we do not think these foods are good for a baby to be weaned on. They are low in nutrition and hard to digest. We recommend waiting as long as you can to begin feeding these things. When you do start, avoid rice-based cereals (high in arsenic) and instead use sprouted or fermented oats, buckwheat, or quinoa cereals. Sprouting and fermenting them reduces the phytates, increases their nutritional value, and makes them easier to digest. Make sure to add some good fat like grass-fed cream or butter when cooking them. Here are good oat, buckwheat, and quinoa options for when you are ready.
If you have questions about specific foods for babies, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to get you the information you need.
We hope this article gave you some valuable information and helps make feeding your little angel a little easier for you. Check out our children's support pack for some supplements to help your baby get off to a good start. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our pregnancy center for more great information on everything from choosing a prenatal vitamin to healthy eating for conception.
Parker's favorite food is anything with chocolate!